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Gifts to Nourish Gardens and Giving

August 17, 2022
Tzu Chi Education Foundation cooperates with a Los Angeles-based community organization to distribute free compost soil, and volunteers introduce Tzu Chi’s bamboo banks to people waiting in line. Photo/Debbie Lee

Written by Debbie Lee, Judy Chuck, Michelle Young
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

Summer was about to begin, yet the weather was surprisingly gloomy and cold on May 28, 2022, with intermittent drizzle. Nonetheless, at 8:00 AM, people were already queuing up in front of the gate to the Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut, California, hoping to get free compost soil provided by Athens Services. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the second time Tzu Chi Education Foundation was collaborating with Athens Services, a waste collection and recycling company operating in the greater Los Angeles area. The event attracted a steady stream of people arriving in over 200 cars. The team distributed nearly 40 tons of organic compost soil within three hours.

The Athens Services team, stationed where cars pull up, helps people fill containers with compost soil and load them into their vehicles. Photo/Debbie Lee

Seizing the Opportunity to Introduce Tzu Chi Bamboo Banks

During the pandemic, many people devote time and energy to their home gardens for entertainment and exercise. Compost soil is the most fertile and safest natural nutrient for planting flowers, fruits, or vegetables, yet it costs money to purchase. Therefore, people came early when Tzu Chi announced this distribution. The queue of cars waiting to pick up the free compost soil stretched onto the street outside the Education Campus parking lot.

Vehicles are already lined up outside the Tzu Chi Education Campus early on the morning of the free compost soil distribution. Photo/Debbie Lee

Seeing the long line of cars, Tzu Chi volunteers mobilized to direct traffic, helping the public enter the site in an orderly sequence. And the event, originally scheduled to start at 9:00 AM, began an hour earlier. As people waited, Tzu Chi Education Foundation staff and volunteers also seized the opportunity to introduce Tzu Chi bamboo banks, which encapsulate the spirit of regular giving with love and pure intentions at the core of Tzu Chi and its founding history.

The waiting time for cars in the queue was long, so Debbie Lee, CEO of Tzu Chi Education Foundation USA, and [School Supervisor] Judy Chuck utilized this time to explain to people about the spirit of Tzu Chi bamboo banks.

Jiwei Sun
Tzu Chi Volunteer

After learning about Tzu Chi’s bamboo banks and receiving one, people in the line responded with interest and proactive support; some felt inspired to put coins in immediately.

We hope to form a bond and share the spirit of Tzu Chi that even putting a small amount of change from our daily life into the bamboo bank can be a great deed for others.

Jiwei Sun
Tzu Chi Volunteer
People in the line agree that Tzu Chi bamboo banks can help children cultivate the responsibility of helping those in need from an early age. Photo/Debbie Lee

One person in the queue asked, “Can I get a few more bamboo banks? Can every child in the family have one? This is a good learning opportunity for kids, and it’s also a good way to foster their empathy so that children can know how to help others from an early age.” Standing on the side and holding a box of bamboo banks, volunteer Jiwei Sun was ready to give more away.

Many took two or three bamboo banks home, wanting to give them to their kids or the children of relatives and friends so they could cultivate the responsibility to give back to society. It warmed the volunteers’ hearts to see people taking the initiative to spread the ripples of love. Everyone felt moved, recognizing the collective positive impact we can have on the world.

Apart from traffic control, Tzu Chi Education Foundation staff and volunteers distribute bamboo banks and hand sanitizers, glad to connect with the public. Photo/Debbie Lee

A Team Effort

Athens Services and Tzu Chi Education Foundation staff and volunteers worked together as a team, making the event proceed smoothly. “We have four volunteers here to support and direct traffic,” Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Tseng said. “Athens Services also dispatched workers to help shovel the compost soil for people, so the distribution process went quite smoothly,” he added.

Our work is actually not tiring. Everyone divides the labor and stands in a fixed position, and the cars naturally queue up one by one. The event was very successful.

Michael Tseng
Tzu Chi Volunteer
Athens Services staff help shovel the organic compost soil while people fill buckets with it to take home. Photo/Debbie Lee

It was the first time Michael had participated in a compost soil distribution, and he didn’t expect so many people to come. He was grateful for this opportunity to serve the community and wished everyone could grow beautiful plants from the compost soil. And everyone from Tzu Chi hoped the bamboo banks sent out that day would awaken endless compassion and love.

The participating teams take a group photo together. Photo/Debbie Lee

By empowering Tzu Chi’s missions, you can discover the positive impact and joy of giving.

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